“Hello homestead. Come quickly! Jacko’s been hurt.”

When it comes to getting the right response to any incident the key is clear communication. Unfortunately, the more serious the incident the more scrambled the communication usually becomes as a result of adrenaline and panic.

But this is exactly when we need to have a good system in place to make sure that our response to an incident on station and then engaging emergency services is clear, concise and accurate.

So what are the elements of good communication in an emergency setting? Keeping in mind that communication is a two way process. If we are blabbering over the UHF and there is no one at the other end we are just making noise for no reason. Similarly, if the message doesn’t make any sense we are also just making noise.

So let’s look at the elements that make good communication from where the incident is to the Homestead, who will most likely end up making the emergency call.

Firstly, let’s think about how it should look from the field of the incident.

Start by slowing down and taking in what you’ve got in front of you. The Primary Survey (DRS ABCD) always comes first! This will deal with any life threats immediately.

Of course, the S stands for Send for Help. We will talk about the broader process in another post but today I just want to address communications. So we’ve dealt with any potential life threat and now we’ve picked up the radio to call back to the Homestead or, if serious enough, and we have the capability, we are calling emergency services direct. He is what they need to know.

Location. And this needs to be a pretty good lock in to your position. There is no point having the best information about your patient if no one knows where you are. So if you radio is about to go flat and you have one sentence to get out, tell them where you are! Roads, track junctions, identifiable features are all ideal. I highly recommend downloading the Emergency Plus app to your phone because that will give you latitude and longitude of your location regardless of whether you’ve got phone network or not. (Click here to download the free app) It uses your phones most basic GPS function and will give a pretty good indication of where you are. So failing any other description of where you are just read out the numbers on the screen.

Number of patients. This is really important because it allows the emergency services to activate the right amount of assets to deal with what’s in front of them.

A short history of what happened, ie. the mechanism of injury/incident/illness. This often paints the picture as to how injured or unwell the patient is now and what injuries to look for but also how sick this person could become down the track. It’s another vital piece of information to make sure the emergency response is accurate. If the emergency services are busy with multiple cases the incident will need to be triaged. The better story you can tell about what is going on the better they are able to accurately triage your case.

A quick snapshot of the injury/illness and a set of Vital Signs. Along with the history of the incident the current injuries and the vital signs tell emergency services how sick this person is right now and is another vital piece of information to help them appropriately respond and/or triage your incident.

Then stand by and wait for instructions.

If you’re at the Homestead receiving a call about an incident, the information above is what you want to extract from the caller prior to your activating your response and/or the emergency services. Grab a pen and paper and jot those details down in readiness to launch your own response but also tell the emergency services, if needed. Other information that becomes important is the approximate age and gender of the patient. Those that are younger or older are generally more frail and less resilient to illness and injury so it’s important information to pass on.

I hope this helps.

As ever, if you have any questions about anything please feel free to call 0491 057 339 email info@ruralandremotefirstaid.com.au

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